The discovery of a dinosaur that wore a heart in the tail was also revealed, and scientists now believe that Ultima Thule is more of a space pancake than a snowman.
Here's the news of space and science that you may have missed in the mad race for everything chocolate and roses this week.
You will have to forgive our tone this week; we are deeply saddened by the loss of the courageous rover Opportunity. After his silence during the dust storm surrounding the planet on Mars in June, the denial was easy. The rover had already gone through dust storms and even survived his twin, Spirit, which mired in the Martian soil and ended his mission in 2011.
The rover's last message to his team before the storm hits hard, as was widely shared this week, was related to "My battery is low and it's getting dark." Nobody wanted Oppy, as the team called him, to be stuck in the storm.
Oppy's engineers sent more than 800 orders to wake her up or help her. They were convinced that she could recover after surviving her initial 90-day mission that began in 2004.
The wind season came and went on Mars, ending in January. And after sending a final order this week unanswered, NASA bid farewell to Opportunity by officially ending its mission and sending it back with a poignant and festive memory.
But this is not the end. NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine painted a beautiful picture of the future on Wednesday, describing the human footprint one day in the footsteps of the Mars rover.
We will meet again someday, I hope soon, Oppy.
A tail with heart
Let's look at something joyful to remove from our eyes this sad rover dust, like dinosaurs and rainbows. Seriously.
e day before Valentine's Day, researchers published a study on a titanosaur with a heart-shaped surprise hidden in the tail.
This particular titanosaur lived about 100 million years ago during the Middle Cretaceous period in Tanzania and it is the only one of this type that was found. The large, long-necked dinosaur belonged to the group of sauropods, known to be the largest terrestrial animal on Earth. In the Late Cretaceous, when the other sauropods have disappeared, titanosaurs develop and diversify.
This titanosaurus is similar to the Lithostrotia species of the Upper Cretaceous Titanosaur, meaning that it was the early stage missing which led to the diversity of titanosaurs. This fossil from southern Africa is also similar to the fossils found in South America.
And this one had a coccyx in the shape of a heart. It is therefore not surprising that the research published this week, while everything heart shaped was all the rage. And it's absolutely delicious.
It's you, Spider-Man?
Speaking of fossils with wow factor, take a deep breath and examine it. Yes, it's supposed to look like that. Because in a way, this ancient spider fossil incredibly well preserved had reflective eyes, and this characteristic is still noticeable.
These reflective structures in the eye, called tapetum, allowed spiders to hunt at night. Try to get rid of this nightmarish picture.
Someone wants a pancake from space?
It's a crepe with a texture, and we're not talking about chocolate chips.
First, they thought it was a bowling pin. Then it was called a snowman. But Ultima Thule, a distant object of the Kuiper belt 4 billion kilometers from the edge of our solar system, is neither.
"New Horizons scientists can confirm that the two sections (or" lobes ") of Ultima Thule are not spherical.The larger lobe, nicknamed" Ultima ", looks more like a giant pancake and the smaller lobe , nicknamed "Thule", is shaped like a bumpy nut, "according to NASA.
Speaking of NASA, the week has been busy for the agency, besides saying goodbye to Opportunity. (There's that dust in our eyes again.) Valentine's candies can offer emotional respite.)
On Wednesday, the agency announced a two-year space mission aimed at studying the beginnings and the evolution of the universe and determining the frequency of the ingredients of life in the planetary systems of our galaxy, the Milky Way.
The spectro-photometer for the history of the universe, era of reionization and ice explorer, nicknamed SPHEREx, should be launched in 2023.
Steps to the past
These traces were found just in time. Paleontologists have discovered in Queensland traces of dinosaurs 95 million years old incredibly well preserved. And fortunately, they managed to keep them away from damaging floods.
The tracks were made by three types of dinosaurs: large sauropods, smaller ornithopods and theropod dinosaurs the size of a chicken.
And that's not all.
If researchers could confirm, the dunes would be the second most confirmed site in the world to have Neanderthal footprints. The other is the Vartop Cave of Romania.
Giant shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
You may know the megalodon, also called "the Meg", via Jason Statham's movie last year on the biggest shark ever seen.
Unlike fiction, it's not there anymore. And now, researchers believe that the virus has been extinguished a million years earlier than expected. That would make it extinct 3.6 million years ago, rather than 2.6 million.
The reason seems surprising: the competition of small white sharks. Previously, it was believed that cosmic radiation from a supernova was at the origin of death.
The great white sharks have briefly ridden with megalodons, and their global spread may have been enough to send a shark three times bigger to the big world.
On the contrary, it makes the "Jaws" theme even more disturbing.